Martin O’Neill expects this month’s friendly against Netherlands to prove fruitful in the Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2016 preparations.
The Ireland boss named a 35-man squad for the May 27 fixture in Dublin as he continues to assess his options ahead of the tournament in France.
“Everything now is about preparing for Euro 2016 and that is why we wanted to play a team of the calibre of the Netherlands as we aim to make the most of our time ahead of the departure for France,” said the 64-year-old.
“We will travel to Fota Island Resort for a training camp and a game against Belarus in the week afterwards, but this game at the Aviva Stadium is very important in terms of building our match sharpness and getting into tournament mode.
“It is also an opportunity to play in front of the Ireland supporters, who have been terrific, at the Aviva Stadium before leaving for the Euros and that is something that means a lot to the players because when we get together, it all comes together.”
A host of players who missed the March double-header against Switzerland and Slovakia through injury are back in the squad, with Shay Given, Marc Wilson, Jeff Hendrick, Harry Arter, Jonathan Walters and David McGoldrick all returning.
Winger Callum O’Dowda, fresh from enjoying League Two promotion with Oxford United, has been handed a maiden senior international call-up.
Ireland – who qualified via the play-offs – face Sweden, Belgium and Italy in Group E.
Squad in full:
Goalkeepers: Shay Given (Stoke City), Darren Randolph (West Ham), David Forde (Millwall), Keiren Westwood (Sheffield Wednesday)
Defenders: Seamus Coleman (Everton), Cyrus Christie (Derby County), Paul McShane (Reading), Ciaran Clark (Aston Villa), Richard Keogh (Derby County), John O’Shea (Sunderland), Alex Pearce (Derby County), Shane Duffy (Blackburn Rovers), Marc Wilson (Stoke City), Stephen Ward (Burnley)
Midfielders: Aiden McGeady (Everton), James McClean (West Brom), Glenn Whelan (Stoke City), James McCarthy (Everton), Jeff Hendrick (Derby County), David Meyler (Hull City), Stephen Quinn (Reading), Darron Gibson (Everton), Harry Arter (Bournemouth), Wes Hoolahan (Norwich City), Eunan O’Kane (Bournemouth), Anthony Pilkington (Cardiff City), Robbie Brady (Norwich City), Jonathan Walters (Stoke City), Jonathan Hayes (Aberdeen), Callum O’Dowda (Oxford United)
Forwards: Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy), Shane Long (Southampton), David McGoldrick (Ipswich Town), Kevin Doyle (Colorado Rapids), Daryl Murphy (Ipswich Town)
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